ADHD medication helps children make moral choices, does not turn them into 'robots'

October 16, 2012
ADHD medication helps children make moral choices

(Medical Xpress)—Children living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to feel that they benefit from medication to treat the condition and do not feel that the medication turns them into 'robots', according to a report published today by researchers at King's College London.

In fact, they report feeling that medication helps them to control their behaviour and make better decisions. The study, led by Dr Ilina Singh from the Department of , Health & Medicine, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, gives a voice to the themselves, providing valuable insights into their experiences and the stigma they face.

The ADHD VOICES – Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics and Stimulants – study has worked with 151 families in the UK and US to examine ethical and societal issues surrounding ADHD, and in particular the use of treatments such as methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Dr Singh and her colleagues interviewed children and their families about ADHD, behaviour, medication and identity across four contexts – home, school, doctor's office and peer group. The findings, announced today, are accompanied by a series of short films by award-winning animators The Brothers McLeod. The report is intended not only to highlight ethical and social issues surrounding ADHD, but also to help families, doctors, teachers and the children themselves to understand from a child's perspective what it is like to live with ADHD.

Dr Singh said: 'ADHD is a very emotive subject which inspires passionate debate. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the condition, what causes it, how to deal with children with ADHD, but the voices of these children are rarely listened to.

'Who better to tell us what ADHD is like and how medication affects them than the children themselves?'

Dr Singh points to the controversies surrounding providing medication to children with ADHD, which some people argue turns the children into 'robots'. She believes that in many cases and with a correct diagnosis, treating with stimulants is appropriate and beneficial, particularly if complemented by other interventions. The evidence from the children that she interviewed suggests that they see medication as improving their ability to make their own moral choices.

The study also reports that children often did not understand their condition or why they were receiving medication. Many children in the study reported that they had little meaningful contact with their doctors. After the initial evaluation, clinic visits tended to focus on side-effect checks during which children were weighed and measured. Most children were not asked any questions during these visits.

Dr Singh argues that children need to be better informed and able to discuss their condition: 'Given the ethical concerns that arise from ADHD diagnosis and stimulant drug treatment, it is imperative that children are able to openly discuss the value of diagnosis and different treatments with a trusted professional.'

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for how parents, doctors and teachers can help children cope with and better understand their condition, and begin to tackle the stigma that currently exists around it.

Clare Matterson, Director of Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, commented: 'It is refreshing to hear the voices of children included in the debate about . It is a very emotive subject and despite the fact that these children are at the centre of this debate, they are too often ignored. This report sends a clear message to doctors, teachers and parents about the importance of talking to children about their condition – and more importantly, listening to what they have to say.'

Explore further: Dietary changes help some children with ADHD

Related Stories

Dietary changes help some children with ADHD

April 24, 2012
Together with child and adolescent psychiatrists, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have just completed an extensive report which reviews the studies which have been done so far on the significance of diet for ...

Study investigates why minorities underuse services for ADHD

October 3, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Minority children are known to utilize treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD—the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood—less than their non-minority peers. The ...

AAP expands ages for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children

October 16, 2011
Updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offer new information on diagnosing and treating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in younger children and in adolescents.

Mutant gene linked to ADHD

April 18, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- In a recent study published in Nature Medicine, Dr. Eunjin Kim from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology uncovers a genetic fault that triples the chances of a child having ADHD (Attention ...

Younger children in the classroom likely overdiagnosed with ADHD

March 5, 2012
The youngest children in the classroom are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- and prescribed medication -- than their peers in the same grade, according to a ...

Recommended for you

Gene associated with schizophrenia risk regulates neurodevelopment

September 25, 2017
A gene associated with the risk of schizophrenia regulates critical components of early brain development, according to a new study led by researchers from Penn State University. The gene is involved in the translation of ...

For a better 'I,' there needs to be a supportive 'we'

September 25, 2017
If you're one of those lucky individuals with high motivation and who actively pursues personal growth goals, thank your family and friends who support you.

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Study links brain inflammation to suicidal thinking in depression

September 21, 2017
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased brain levels of a marker of microglial activation, a sign of inflammation, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the University of ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.